20 of the Most Beautiful Bookshops in the World

A gorgeous converted Dominican church gives the power of reading its due diligence. Selexyz Bookstore, Maastricht, Holland

Modern design at its finest in a store full of art books. The Bookàbar Bookshop, Rome, Italy

We love the stairs as reading and display area, the wall-to-wall bookshelves, and the simple, clean design. Plural Bookshop, Bratislava, Slovakia

This divine neo-gothic bookstore, opened in 1906, contains what we consider to be the ultimate definition of a stairway to heaven. Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

Somehow, this bookstore manages to be both whimsical and slightly macabre all at once. Cook & Book, Brussels, Belgium

There’s magic in the air at this English-language bookstore in Beijing. Bookworm, Beijing, China

This majestic converted 1920s movie palace uses theatre boxes for reading rooms and draws thousands of tourists every year. Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina [images via and via]

How could any kid (or adult, for that matter) resist those delicious reading nooks? Poplar Kid’s Republic, Beijing, China

This is a bookstore that seems to be made almost entirely out of books — down to its dramatic front doors. Livraria da Vila, Sao Paulo, Brazil [photos via]

For those who like their green spaces (and coffee shops) to invade their bookstores. Cafebreria El Pendulo, Mexico City, Mexico [photos via]

For those browsers not as impressed by architecture as they are by the beauty of books upon books upon books in narrow hallways — not to mention a place to nap. Shakespeare & Company, Paris, France [photo via]

The huge space, high ceilings and stately pillars make for a lovely reading experience. The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, CA

For sailors and beach readers alike, this sun-kissed bookstore is a little less ostentatious than some of the others on this list, but no less lovely. Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece

The biggest outdoor bookstore in the world, this photo doesn’t really do the place justice — it’s all about the view. Bart’s Books, Ojai, California [photo via]

The bookstore section of the larger complex dedicated to art and design certainly lives up to its mission. Corso Como Bookshop, Milan, Italy

We’re suckers for rounded ceilings and decorative lighting. Barter Books, Alnwick, UK [photosvia]

This beautifully designed space has surprising shapes, cleverly constructed nooks and crannies and even a tree or two. The American Book Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands [photo via]

Almost utilitarian but filled with simple old-world grace, this store is a little like what we might imagine our ideal ship’s main cabin to look like. VVG Something, Taipei, Taiwan

This store has a flying bike and books to the ceiling. Need we say more? Ler Devagar, Lisbon, Portugal


Source: Flavorwire

Size Matters: On the Lost Art of Brevity

A good story is a good story no matter what the length. However, there is a trend these days that implies the bigger the better. Unless you’re trying to win a Hugo Award where a minimum of 40,000 words is a requirement, length does not actually matter to a story (although events like NaNoWriMo with its 50,000-word arbitrary goal and the books regularly getting movie deals these days would have us believe otherwise).

Brevity is a lost art.

  • Harry Potter : 7 books/4,095 pages with a 585 page average; shortest at 309 pages and longest at 870
  • A Song of Fire and Ice: 5 books, 2 more on the way/2,562 pages; the 854 page average skewed thanks to the 1056 page A Dance With Dragons
  • The Millennium Trilogy: 3 books/1,905 pages with a 635 page average

It’s not like books have never been atrociously long before – Les Miserables clocks in at 1042 pages. J.R.R. Tolkien is the king of multi-volume story with Lord of the Rings, which is 1728 pages if you include The Hobbit (more with the addition of appendices and supplementary books). Charles Dickens’ longest book is Bleak House if you go by page number (928), David Copperfield if you go by word count (358,000).

The difference between these lengthy tomes and our modern ones is that when they were written (with the exception of Tolkien), these books were everything – they were the radio, television, and internet of their day – the perfect escape for the whole family to enjoy with the occasional “after the kids are in bed” reads like The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman – it’s own length a joke, as Shandy is unable to stay on subject without several tangents to his own story. Even so, the book is only 342 pages.

Then, like today, length could mean money. Dickens certainly mastered the art of stringing the plot along for the sake of a serial, supposedly paid by the word. But length was also a product of simply having time on one’s hands; Fanny Burney’s Evelina might not have been 600 pages long if she was writing in between a day job and picking up the kids from school.

Ultimately, a book should only be as long as it takes to tell the story – no longer, no shorter. George Orwell managed Animal Farm just fine in 168 pages, while Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is only 108 pages. And while there is nothing wrong with a long novel if its length is what it takes to tell the story, just think of how much shorterTwilight (2,720 pages) could have been if an editor had told Meyer to stop with all the amber eyes/ice cold skin repetition. The story would still have had problems, but each book would have been about 50 pages shorter (yes, hyperbole). Even The Neverending Story manages to be 2,336 pages shorter than Twilight.

There’s something wonderful about a novel where the weight is in the words, not page count. Shakespeare stated that “brevity is the soul of wit,” but it is also the soul of a book where each word means something.

Recently, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRecord.org released the second volume of Tiny Stories, described by the LA Times as having “haiku-like precision.” These pocket-sized books are preceded by the ultimate big meaning in tiny packaging story. Ernest Hemingway is said to have written the shortest story as part of a barroom challenge on a cocktail napkin:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

Hemingway nailed the brevity with this story – it says more precisely because it says less.

Literary Maps

Beautiful Hand-lettered Literary Maps

“The idea for these maps was my wife, Dani’s, and I created the first one (the United Kingdom) in November 2010 without thinking all that carefully about the selection. I just trawled my own bookshelves. I have to defend myself almost weekly against angry emails about the absence of Dickens (whom I have never rated); no one seems to have noted that Pope and Orwell aren’t there either. I admire both and would have included them had I been more thorough. The first 500 copies of the map have a spelling mistake (Robert Greacen, in Ulster, is spelled ‘Greacon’); I corrected this on the second printing and added a couple of names – Angela Carter and Louis MacNiece.

I drew the map freehand, and it is somewhat distorted, in order to take into account the concentrations of writers I admire: Kent and Sussex are larger than they should be; Northumberland compressed, and the Lake District grossly inflated. On the fourth and latest edition I altered Kent a little, and relettered a handful of names. I think I should probably stop tinkering with it now!

We were surprised by how well the United Kingdom map sold and straightaway set about a map of the United States. This time I worked with an American editor, Bridget Hannigan, to attempt to get slightly better coverage, particularly of those parts of the United States I know nothing about. I also spent quite a while finding a projection that cinched in the northern parts of the United States, so that I could fit it onto a standard paper size, and then laid out the names state by state. You can see still see the state boundaries in a number of places; try tracing the outlines of Texas or Idaho. New England was incredibly dense and hard to do; California too, but at least that had space to spill over somewhat into the rather emptier Nevada. The solution I came up with for the New York/Boston logjam was eventually to include a spray of American writers who made their names in Europe off the East Coast and a number of Jewish writers who came in during the 1930s.

The next map that I did towards the end of 2011 was a real labour of love. While Scotland had a good amount of space on the United Kingdom map, for Wales I had had far too many good names to try to pack into a tiny area, and we set to work on a dedicated Welsh map, working with Gwyn Davies (from the National Library of Wales) on the name selection. We decided together to restrict the selection to dead writers here, as the Welsh tradition covers 1,500 years and three languages; with the United States it had been 250 years at most; 90 for the West Coast, and all in English. Wales was probably the most aesthetically satisfying for me in terms of the quality of my own lettering, although its sales remain quite modest compared to the others.

And so to the newest map, ‘From Neverland to Wonderland: A Map of Children’s Literature in Britain’, just out this week: this one was entirely Dani’s idea. She did an MA in Children’s Literature at Roehampton a few years back and is passionate about the subject. Here I decided to use slightly brighter colours than the fairly muted palettes I usually favour, and a few more visual jokes; Spike Milligan, for instance, would have been hard to fit into Sussex, where he lived, as it is stuffed already, so I put him walking backwards across the Irish Sea.”

– Geoff Sawers

Order your hand-lettered map of
Literary Britain and Northern Ireland.

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Literary Map of Wales/Map Llenorion Cymru.

Order From Neverland to Wonderland: A Map of Children’s Literature in Britain.

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Reblogged from http://peonymoon.wordpress.com/